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Tammi A. Tannura
Former Extension Educator, Community Health
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Being open and available to talk about subjects such as sex and sexuality can be challenging. Some common fears that many parents have include not having all the answers, feeling embarrassed, encouraging sexual experimentation, or feeling as though talking doesn't matter. Here are some suggestions about how to address these fears:
-If children ask about something unfamiliar, it's okay to say "I don't know. Let's find out together."
-Feeling embarrassed is very common for both parents and children. Admit how you are feeling, say something like- "I might get a little tense or uncomfortable during this conversation, and you might, too. That's okay for both of us — it's totally normal."
-The myth that talking about sex is harmful and that it will lead to sexual experimentation is incorrect. Kids who talk with their parents about sex are more likely to postpone having sex.
-Young adolescents rate their parents as the most influential when it comes to their sexual attitudes and behaviors. Talking has great value and makes a huge difference!
Take time to recognize the teachable moments that give you opportunities to talk about sex and sexuality with your child. Teachable moments are everyday moments in our lives that can prompt conversations about these topics. It may take several tries before you can speak comfortably together. Sometimes asking your child a question is a great way to open up a conversation. Here are a few questions you might ask:
- Do you know the names of all your body parts?
- Do you know why girls look different than boys?
- Your aunt is pregnant. Do you know what that means?
- People change a lot during puberty. What have you heard about the changes of puberty? How do you feel about going through puberty?
- At what age do you think a person should start dating? Have any of your friends started dating?
- Do you think girls and boys are treated differently? (If yes …) How?
- How have you changed in the last two years? What do you like and what do you not like about the changes?
- At what age do you think a person is ready to have sex? How should a person decide?
- At what age do you think a person is ready to be a parent?
It's never too late to start talking about this important topic. Just don't try to "catch up" all at once. The most important thing is to be open and available whenever a child wants to talk.
For additional resources and information on talking with your kids about sex please visit: